For Tuvans, the Khayyrakan mountain (“bear” on Tuvan) is a holy place. The mountain was named in honour of the shamanistic belief that there was a resident God bear ruling over it. It is located in between the town of Shagonar and the village of Khayyrakan, an hour’s drive from the capital of Tyva, Kyzyl. The mountain is striking in size, with steep cliffs, many caves and grottoes. It towers at 1042m about sea level. There are many legends and stories involving the Khayyrakan mountain.

I have a favorite story which my mom told me. I keep it deep in my soul. On the way from Kyzyl to the village of Chaa-Khol, where we stayed during the summer holidays, we always stopped at the foot of the Khayyrakan mountain, in the town of On-Kum. There is a Buddhist stupa erected at that place in honor of the arrival of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in 1992. He consecrated this place, marking it as a place of concentration of positive energy. The mountain also remains a shrine for shamans. At one of our routine picnics, mother told me a story of how a famous enthnographer became enthralled with our holy mountain. In 1993, the well-known ethnographer Heimo Lappalainen came to a symposium on shamanism in Tyva. He believed that Tyva is the birthplace of shamanism. During the trip, he also visited the sacred mountain of Khayyrakan. He felt instantly intertwined with this place and considered the mountain the most important symbol of shamanism for himself. He loved the place so much that prior to his death, he requested to dispel his ashes near Mount Khayyrakan. The shamans duly obeyed his dying wish. This story impressed me, primarily, with how much you can love a place that is so far from your birthplace.

At the sight of the holy mountain of Khayyrakan, I too, feel awe and a sense of connection with this mount.

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To understand this, you have to go there and feel the concentration of powerful energy of this place.

Written by airamo